An Inclusive College Football Playoff – Quarterfinals

With the first round done on campus, we go to the New Year’s Six Bowls to get you to the playoffs.  Click on the right links for the EAST, SOUTH, MIDWEST and WEST regions:

SOUTH REGIONAL FINALS – Peach Bowl – Atlanta, GA

Alabama 31, Michigan State 21: Behind 2 TJ Yeldon TD runs in the first quarter, Alabama raced out to a 21-7 lead at halftime, cruising to a 31-21 win.  Blake Sims threw for 342 yards as the Tide offense rolled up 490 yards against the stout Spartans D.  Connor Cook threw for 329 yards in a game where the Michigan State rushing attack was bottled up for just 75 yards.

EAST REGIONAL FINALS – Orange Bowl – Miami Gardens, FL

TCU 41, Florida State 34A crucial game tying pick-six in the 3rd quarter and a pounding running game led the Horned Frogs to a 41-34 win over the Seminoles and a berth in the semifinals.  For once, Florida State led at the half behind touchdown runs by Dalvin Cook and Karlos Williams.  However, Jameis Winston’s 3rd down pass was brought to the house in the first series of the third quarter and that opened up the floodgates, as the Horned Frogs scored 17 of the next 20 points.  Trevone Boykin passed for 167 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 67 yards and another score.

WEST REGIONAL FINALS – Fiesta Bowl – Glendale, AZ

Oregon 31, Kansas State 24: Darren Carrington’s 17 yard pass from Marcus Mariota with 9:24 to go proved decisive as Oregon held off Kansas State 31-24.  K-State, looking for its second straight upset win after winning at Mississippi State in the regional semis, traded punches with the Ducks throughout this seesaw affair.  Jake Waters through for 347 yards for the Wildcats, 133 of them to Tyler Locket, helping make up for an anemic rushing attack who only mustered 16 yards against the Ducks front.  The Wildcat defense troubled Oregon throughout, holding the Ducks to a mere 309 yards.  However, the Ducks offense was picked up by the defense and special teams, which added a 66 yard punt return.

MIDWEST REGIONAL FINALS – Cotton Bowl – Arlington, VA

Ohio State 35, Baylor 28: Cardale Jones threw for 332 yards and 4 TDs, helping the Buckeyes build a 35-13 lead and withstand a furious rally by the Bears in the fourth quarter.  Devin Smith caught 5 passes for 116 yards and a TD for the Buckeyes.  Shock Linwood ran for 136 yards and 2 TDs for the Bears, whose season ends at 12-2.

2015 NBA Power Rankings Daily Note

I am sure you are dutifully clicking on the link up there to see the NBA Power Rankings.  You’ll notice now, that with 30+ games in the books, it made sense to start adding “recent results”, so we not only see who has played the best all season – but give some extra points for who is actually hot.  This way, the rankings are actually more like a true power ranking – the best of the moment and not just standings.

How do we do it?  Well, we calculate power rankings as normal, for both the whole season and a team’s last 25% of games.  (so right now a team’s last 7 or 8 games usually)  The whole season is counted as 2/3, and the last quarter is counted as 1/3.  At the end of the season this means that 2/3 of the result is based on all 82 games, and 1/3 is the last 21.  This obviously does not capture injury effects, but no systematic approach can.  The GRAND column gives you the spread.  So Portland, at +10.1, is on a neutral floor for one game a 19 point favorite over the #30 Timberwolves.  Anyway, some quick takeaways using recent form?

  • Portland has been the most consistent team this season
  • The Thunder have caught fire as the injury problems have receded.  They are merely 5-4 in that “25% stretch” but have the second best adjusted scoring margin in that time frame.  This vaults them to #6 despite the #14 overall body of work.
  • The recent results is a much smaller sample of course, but it shows the Grizz and Cavs have not played well recently.  They are clearly the two winning records with the most slippage, while the Thunder seem to show most upside.

Anyway, see how this rolls.

An Inclusive College Football Playoff – MIDWEST Semifinals

Last region before the quarters.  Click on links for South, East, West

Ohio State 69, Memphis 3

(Columbus, OH) – Cardale Jones threw for 411 yards and 5 TDs, and the Buckeyes scored 2 TD in the final 39 seconds of the first half en route to a 69-3 romp at Ohio Stadium.  The American champs from Memphis could never get anything going, only amassing 290 yards as the Buckeyes devoured the usually stout Tiger defense.  Ezekiel Elliott added 134 yards and 3 touchdowns on 27 carries for the Buckeyes who move on to face Baylor in the Cotton Bowl.

Baylor 24, Ole Miss 21

(Waco, TX) – A Jaylen Walton fumble with 51 seconds to go ended Ole Miss’ chance at a stunning comeback as their 4th quarter rally fell short in their 24-21 loss to Baylor.  Bryce Petty threw for 210 yards and 3 touchdowns helping the Bears build up a 24-7 lead through three quarters.  However two late touchdowns, including a 34 yard strike from Bo Wallace to Cody Core, made it a 24-21 game with under two minutes to go.  After holding Baylor, Ole Miss had the ball at their own 28 and a minute left, but could not quite finish the job.

An Inclusive College Football Playoff – WEST Semifinals

Now, onto the West regionals of the mythical tournament.  The South and East regionals are here.

Oregon 36, Northern Illinois 17

(Eugene, OR) – Marcus Mariots threw 3 touchdown passes to cap a 21 for 24 for 241 yard day.  The Ducks defense held up their end forcing two interceptions of Drew Hare.  The first pick set up Oregon’s second touchdown in the first quarter, securing a 17-0 lead that the Ducks would not relinquish.  On a rainy day where Oregon’s usual fireworks were grounded to a mere 361 yards (120 on the ground), the Heisman winner and the Ducks stout defense carried the day.

Kansas State 48, Mississippi State 13

(Starkville, MS) – Jake Waters threw for 303 yards and 4 touchdowns, adding another on the ground as Kansas State became the first lower seed to win in this tournament, in a 48-13 romp over Mississippi State.  Tyler Lockett caught touchdowns of 32 and 5 yards as the Wildcats raced out to a 24-3 halftime lead and they were never threatened after that.  Dak Prescott’s dual threat was stymied as he was sacked 7 times and the Bulldogs were held to a paltry 2.3 yards per carry.  Kansas State will play Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl for West Supremacy.

 

An Inclusive College Football Playoff – EAST Semifinals

Now, onto the East regionals of the mythical tournament.  The South regionals are here.

Florida State 45,  Marshall 42

(Tallahassee, FL) – Stop me if you heard this, but Florida State was in trouble again.  Rakeem Cato and the Marshall Thundering Herd were not intimidated entering Doak Campbell Stadium, and when Justin Haig kicked a 26 yard FG to start the 3rd quarter, Marshall had a 24-14 lead.  However, Florida State came back again behind three second half touchdown passes from Jameis Winston.  Winston threw for 252 yards and 4 touchdowns, and Delvin Cook ran for 131 yards.  People keep wondering when the luck will run out, but Florida State survives for now.

TCU 26, Boise State 6

(Fort Worth, TX) – Aaron Green’s 43 yard run early in the 3rd quarter gave TCU a lead they would not relinquish as they strangled the Boise State offense 26-6.  Boise State, in a rainy Fort Worth, was able to stay with the Horned Frogs for a half, emerging with a 3-2 lead against the highest scoring team in the country.  However, the offense could not establish balance with a paltry 65 yards rushing.  Two late touchdowns in the fourth quarter sealed things.  TCU plays Florida State in Miami for the East finals.

 

An Inclusive College Football Playoff – SOUTH Semifinals

Expounding on the idea of an inclusive playoff more in line with what we’d expect a real sport to do, how would the tournament itself actually play out?  Well, let’s tease it out.  Suppose we keep the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl as the national semifinals?  For the regions, use the other “Big Six”.  EAST: Orange Bowl, SOUTH: Peach Bowl, MIDWEST: Cotton Bowl, WEST: Fiesta Bowl.  For the first round games, we use campus sites.  We’ll use WhatifSports simulations using today’s weather forecasts for the sites.

Alabama 52, Georgia Southern 0

(Tuscaloosa, AL) This game was over quickly as Alabama used a 21 point 2nd quarter to take a 28 point lead, too big a mountain for the run oriented Eagles to transcend.  Alabama’s defense held the Sun Belt champs to a mere 223 yards.  Meanwhile Blake Sims, as part of his 5 touchdown day, connected with Amare Cooper 8 times for 147 yards.

Michigan State 28, Georgia Tech 14

(East Lansing, MI) Jeremy Langford ran for 160 yards and 2 scores on 29 carries while Michigan State piled up 535 yards of offense in a 28-14 win over Georgia Tech at Spartan Stadium.  The Michigan
State defense successfully bottled up Georgia Tech’s nationally reknown option game, as the Yellow Jackets could only muster 321 yards total offense.  An 89 yard drive ending with a Langford touchdown with 7 minutes to go in the 3rd gave the Spartans a 21-0 lead they would not relinquish.  Zack Laskey ran for 158 yards for Georgia Tech who saw their season end at 10-4.

An Inclusive College Football Playoff

Well, the latest rankings experiment has more or less concluded.  So I won’t beat that horse here.  But how would a 16 team tournament really look in a more practical world?  So as a fun cross check, I messed around a bit:

  • I aggregated three publicly available rankings.  Kenneth Massey and Jeff Sagarin‘s computer ratings along with the AP Poll.  Normalizing, racking and stacking them – you get something like this – I only rank the top contenders and the conference champs to get to a list of contenders for the national title (scale 0 to 1):
    1. Alabama – 1.000
    2. Oregon – 0.966
    3. TCU – 0.899
    4. Ohio State – 0.892
    5. Florida State – 0.877
    6. Baylor – 0.873
    7. Mississippi State – 0.830
    8. Michigan State – 0.815
    9. Ole Miss – 0.812
    10. Kansas State – 0.732
    11. Georgia – 0.731
    12. Georgia Tech – 0.694
    13. Arizona – 0.673
    14. Auburn – 0.663
    15. UCLA – 0.660
    16. Missouri – 0.635
    17. Arizona State – 0.617
    18. Wisconsin – 0.594
    19. Clemson – 0.594
    20. LSU – 0.578
    21. Boise State – 0.514
    22. Marshall – 0.423
    23. Memphis – 0.385
    24. Cincinnati – 0.369
    25. Central Florida – 0.348
    26. Northern Illinois – 0.329
    27. Georgia Southern – 0.308

So – what does a tournament look like?

  • Automatic Bids – Baylor gets the Big 12’s berth here due to a head-to-head breaking a 2-way tie – there is no reason for the Big 12 to have a championship game as a team which plays a full round robin.  A three way tie defers to the above standings (and why we listed the three AAC co-champs).
    • SEC: Alabama (1)
    • Pac-12: Oregon (2)
    • Big Ten: Ohio State (4)
    • ACC: Florida State (5)
    • Big 12: Baylor (6)
    • Mountain West: Boise State (21)
    • Conference USA: Marshall (22)
    • American: Memphis (23)
    • MAC: Northern Illinois (26)
    • Sun Belt: Georgia Southern (27)
  • At-Large Bids.  Easy here to go right down the line.  That said, #12 Georgia Tech gets the nod over #11 Georgia for the last playoff spot because of their recent head-to-head.
    • TCU (3)
    • Mississippi State (7)
    • Michigan State (8)
    • Ole Miss (9)
    • Kansas State (10)
    • Georgia Tech (12)
  • Apply the S-Curve
    • Alabama-Michigan State-Ole Miss-Georgia Southern
    • Oregon-Mississippi State-Kansas State-Northern Illinois
    • TCU-Baylor-Georgia Tech-Memphis
    • Ohio State-Florida State-Boise State-Marshall
  • Final Result (A plays B, C plays D in semis) – some small changes to balance the bracket and recognize some minor primacy for conference championships. TCU gets moved to a #2 seed with Baylor while FSU hops up to the #1 seed.  Also (as the NCAA might for basketball) we shuffle Georgia Tech and Ole Miss to eliminate a rematch possibility with Alabama.
    • Region A: SOUTH
      • Alabama v Georgia Southern
      • Michigan State v Georgia Tech
    • Region B: EAST
      • Florida State v Marshall
      • TCU v Boise State
    • Region C: WEST
      • Oregon v Northern Illinois
      • Mississippi State v Kansas State
    • Region D: MIDWEST
      • Ohio State v Memphis
      • Baylor v Ole Miss